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European Championships open in Tallinn, Estonia

Domnina and Shabalin win compulsory dance

Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin won the compulsory round at Europeans.
Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin won the compulsory round at Europeans. (Getty Images)

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By J. Barry Mittan, special to icenetwork.com
(01/19/2010) - The 2010 European Figure Skating Championships opened in Tallinn, Estonia, with 27 couples competing in the compulsory dance -- the Tango Romantica. The competition was free of major mistakes with all of the top ten couples that had competed internationally this season earning season bests in the dance.

Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin won the first competition with 42.78 points. The team was forced to withdraw at last year's European Championships after Shabalin injured his knee during the compulsory dance.

"For the first day, we can be very happy," Shabalin said. "We coped with our nerves and we skated very well without any mistakes or wobbles."

"We looked into each other's eyes and we showed true passion," Domnina added.

Russia's Jana Khokhlova and Sergei Novitski, who won the ice dancing title at Europeans last season, scored 37.87 points to place second.

"Today we were in an excellent mood and hopefully we were able to bring it across," Khokhlova said. "We hope to repeat last year's success but we are not thinking too much about what was last year."

Federica Faiella and Massimo Scali of Italy, who were last year's European silver medalists, stand in third place after the compulsory dance with 37.47 points.

"This was one of our best performances of the tango," Faiella said. "We are thinking about a medal because everybody is thinking about a medal, but the most important thing for us is to be at our best."

Great Britain's Sinead Kerr and John Kerr, who won the bronze medal at the 2009 Europeans, earned 36.76 points to place fourth.

Referring to last year's success and the pressure to remain on the podium, John Kerr said, "There is always pressure but the more you compete, the more you get used to it."

Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat, who were in fourth place last season, earned 36.36 points for their Tango Romantica and were in fifth place. The French team won the bronze medal at this season's ISU Grand Prix Final, giving the team its highest world ranking so far.

"It's important for us to do good at this competition," Bourzat stated. "We still have two tries left so we'll see what they bring."

Italians Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte, who were fifth at last year's Europeans, scored 35.93 points in the compulsory dance, good enough for sixth place.

"I feel our routine was strong," Lanotte said. "It was intense and the interpretation of the dance was good."

Israel's Alexandra Zaretski and Roman Zaretski were in seventh place with 34.63 points. The couple placed 11th at last year's European Championships.

"It is a special competition for us because it's the first time in Estonia," Roman Zaretski said.

Russia's Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev finished in eighth place with 33.33 points.

"This is our first European Championships and we got a funny score," Bobrova said. "We never had a score like that."

Anna Zadorozhniuk and Sergei Verbilo and Alla Beknazarova and Vladimir Zuev round out the top ten.